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Check It Out

Do It Yourself

Smith made her search easier by working with a reference librarian, who pointed out resources and showed her how to find information herself. To get the most from your librarian, take three important steps:

1.Start with a clear idea of the information you're seeking. Asking for "any information on Japan" is too general. Do you want "import data for household gifts and accessories" or "help from the government for entrepreneurs wanting to do business in Japan"? The more specific your request, the better.

2.Get oriented. Find out where the library's business, government and general reference materials are. Some library tours include interactive instruction on using library databases and searching the Web.

3.Learn basic research techniques. Ask if handouts are available on how to use the library's online catalog. Request a tutoring session (usually free). Learn how to conduct specialized searches of the library's databases and use Internet search engines more efficiently.

In no time, you'll be thinking like a researcher and gathering information on your own. Once you've become familiar with the resources available at your public library, you'll turn to this resource again and again as your business grows.

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This article was originally published in the June 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Check It Out.

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